The Security Council’s Newest Member Is Accused of Killing Thousands of Prisoners

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Oct. 21 2013 5:05 PM

Nigeria Accused of Killing Thousands

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Nigerian amphibious army advance towards the enemy during a joint military exercise between Nigerian armed forces, United States, Britain, Netherlands and Spain in Lagos on October 18, 2013.

Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

The AP’s Michelle Faul suggests that the situation in Northern Nigeria may be even uglier than previously thought:  

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

Overall, the records obtained by The Associated Press for the nine months from Oct. 5 to July 5 indicate that the military is killing thousands in its crackdown on the uprising in northeast Nigeria.
The records cover just one hospital, Sani Abacha Specialist Teaching Hospital in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, the movement fighting to uproot Western cultural influences from a country shared almost equally by Muslims and Christians. In the 30 days before the state of emergency was declared on May 14, 380 bodies were delivered to the hospital by the military. In the 30 days after, the number was 1,321.
For the whole of June, the number was 1,795, making it the worst month in the records seen by the AP, which has also witnessed many of the bodies being delivered to the hospital in military ambulances, escorted by armored cars.
The figure is much larger than the estimated number of Boko Haram fighters.
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The article follow another report from Amnesty International, suggesting that “over 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of this year alone.” According to the AP’s records, more than three times that many were killed in this period.

Boko Haram has carried out its own share of atrocities, but reports of what looks like a slow-motion massacre by the Nigerian military are certainly disturbing. Nigeria was one of the five countries elected to the U.N. Security Council last week.  

The U.S. has a longstanding assistance and training relationship with Nigeria’s military, including counterterrorism training. The U.S. has offered more security assistance in the fight against Boko Haram, though Secretary of State John Kerry recently expressed concern over "credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations."